There can be no question that the ‘cloud’ is transforming the way enterprise applications are created, operated and consumed. It affects the results of established players - see e.g. IBM CEO Rometty talking about 'unprecedented path in our industry' (see here).
Due to the innovative nature of cloud computing, smaller, often simpler applications have found their realization as cloud applications earlier than traditional enterprise apps. It is for instance very hard to find a mobile application that does NOT have a cloud backend. Or find a Talent Management product that was recently built and does NOT run in the cloud (only).
The story is different in the enterprise software space, where vendors that existed before the cloud computing era, had to find ways to leverage their existing investments into millions of lines of code and make them available in reasonable cloud architectures. ‘Born in the cloud’ vendors like e.g. and Workday had a considerable time to market advantage over the vendors that ran their application portfolio on the previously en vogue internet architecture. But being a pioneer has its costs, too – and both mentioned companies had to build their own, proprietary cloud architectures. There was no off the shelf cloud architecture and infrastructure to use back when started in 1999 and Workday in 2004.

Fast forward to 2014 and we see a number of cloud infrastructures than can and could be used, starting with Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, Google’s Google Cloud Platform, IBM’s SoftLayer, Rackspace, VMWare, CenturyLink  etc. etc. not all of them will have the following qualities that in my view will define an enterprise cloud.

So here are the seven characteristics that define an enterprise cloud:

  • Notice Period - Short term notice periods, the longest acceptable being 3 months.
  • Data Ownership – Enterprises own their data and can use and retrieve it as they wish, with no penalties.
  • Glocal Coverage – both the ability to deploy global and local capabilities – depending on data governance requirements and enterprise preference.
  • Server Physicality – Enterprises may abstract resources, and maybe fine with a certain degree of virtualization, but there must be also the option for certain loads to see, touch, run the servers the application runs on (aka knows as bare metal).
  • Physical Separation – As required enterprise cloud providers may have to offer the physical separation of network, storage and compute resources (managed cage).
  • SLAs & Optional Services – The vendors must be ready to support the service levels that enterprises use today for their on premise loads and be able to support a premium on top of that in order to motivate the switch to cloud and dissolve the concerns around loss of control when moving to the cloud. Optional Services help enterprises to move, run, monitor and operate the cloud environment.
  • Cost Transparency – Enterprises need to pay their bills and they do that through budget allocation. If they cannot plan budgets, analyze consumption, cross charge for services – they will look for cloud vendors that enable that.

I am still pondering on the need of an enterprise cloud to support hybrid cloud. It will certainly help enterprise cloud vendors to support hybrid deployment. Enterprises usually have large on premise computing and facility capabilities. They are unlikely to give these up quickly, but wait for them to be written down. So in the transition period of computing into public clouds, enterprise cloud vendors that can help use local capabilities and transition to the public cloud, will have an advantage over those vendors that cannot (or don’t want to – e.g. Amazon AWS and Google Cloud Platform). Longer term the verdict is still out how much enterprises will run their loads between the public and private (local, on premise) cloud infrastructures. Again vendors with hybrid capabilities will have an advantage, as long as they can create large enough public cloud capacities, and their public cloud efforts are seen as genuine (and not as a stop gap or selection tick mark for selling more on premise cloud infrastructure and services).


Your POV

Do we see the rise of the enterprise cloud? What are key enterprise cloud capabilities that are needed? Please comment – thanks!

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